2014 Maruti Swift Long Term Review
The Swift continues to charm us with its reliability, keeps piling on the miles effortlessly
Pre-2005; Small Car = Hatchback and then a vehicle came and changed the very perception of what a hatchback can be. No, the Maruti Suzuki Swift wasn’t the first premium hatchback in India, that honour rests with the Fiat Palio. Yet the Indian made Japanese car is definitely the first premium hatchback to have achieved success in India, changing the very perception of people in India who thought that bigger is the only better. The Swift can be applauded for starting the big small car game, aka the segment of small cars which are big on features, performance and driving abilities. It’s the car which is largely responsible for companies in India like Hyundai (betting on the i20), Honda (having hope in the Jazz), Chevrolet (trying their luck with the SR-V) and so on and so forth.
This is our second report on our long term diesel powered Maruti Suzuki Swift, not a history lesson into the Indian car industry, so let’s dwell into how India’s best selling hatchback continues to please us day-in and day-out (for the record, I don’t call the Alto 800 a hatchback, it’s more of a small car which is small and shaped like a hatchback!). As expected from a Maruti Suzuki car, the Swift continues to harbour on, no fuss whatsoever. Japanese mechanism of Poka Yoke (mistake proofing) shows in every aspect, the Swift is so faultless although somethings can be passed off as boring. I will start with my biggest gripe, while I can do without pushing buttons to start engines and stopping them, Bluetooth connectivity is a must, even a Rs. 5 lakh Celerio has it nowadays, Maruti bring out the facelift fast.
The Swift isn’t a car which will attract attention on the road and that’s largely because there are just too many of them plying on our roads. The styling is neutral, nothing that excites but surely not boring either. Suzuki has carried over most design cues from the old Swift and tried to evolve the design which has quite worked for the Japanese small car master. Still, the Swift’s design isn’t as timeless as say a Volkswagen Polo’s. Drawing a quick comparison with the German hatchback, reminds me that the paint quality on the Swift is average at best, not even close to what we see on a similarly priced Polo.
However, quality inside the cabin is very good, there are absolutely no rattles, not even on bad and broken roads. Build quality for the most part is excellent and is a definite step-up over the old Swift which rattled incessantly. Even after being in our long term fleet for more than two years, the dashboard doesn’t show any signs of wear, although the plastic on the top of the dash is on the shiny side, reflects a lot of sun on the move.
Interior space isn’t the Swift’s forte yet the front seats are easily the best in class, the rear are quite the opposite, among the worst we have seen in the segment as space is just lacking and the small windows really makes it a claustrophobic place to be in. Headroom is more than enough for every passenger though but Maruti needs to do something about the rear seat space as the Hyundai Grand i10, which is smaller in size, has more space on the inside. Even the boot of the Swift isn’t accomodating, there just isn’t enough space to keep luggage for a weekend gateway. If anything, the electro-magnetic tail gate opener is a nice touch and there is no button on the inside to open the boot.
What really amazes us about the Maruti Swift is the stock audio system, it just has the right set-up for giving out a clear and rich audio experience for a stock unit. The audio system itself is neatly integrated, the large unit being easy to use on the move with most connectivity options like USB and AUX being present. The climate control AC is a nice touch, it also works efficiently to chill the all black cabin in no time.
Perhaps the best aspect about the Maruti Suzuki Swift is its engine, the 1.3-litre DDiS unit is tuned quite well for performance but isn’t the best bet for city driving as turbo lag is prominent. However, out on the highways, the Swift’s diesel engine really charms you, the way it pulls in higher gears, makes you feel you are a gear or two down. Sure, it does lack low end punch but it more than makes up for it with a stupendous mid and top-end, very much like a petrol engine. NVH levels are good but the motor starts becoming audible past 2500 RPM, not sounding one bit like a diesel, there is no clatter, just a sweet tone which is quite a pleasure to hear. 0-100 km/hr takes 13.76 seconds as per our VBOX runs, the tyres preventing us all the time from a good launch.
The engine character is quite like a gasoline mill, fast revving with a clutch and gearbox combo which is light and accurate, making the engine nothing short of a hoot. Maruti plans to replace the 4-cylinder diesel with a self developed 3-cylinder unit in the next generation Swift and considering how the Swift’s fun to drive quotient has diminished from the last generation to the current one, we expect the company to simply kill the fun of driving the Swift with a 3-pot oil burner. The old Swift is remembered for its kick in the pants feel while accelerating, no such feeling in the new Swift, which is also less frugal than its predecessor. We are getting a mileage of 15.22 km/l, which is far from being best in class.
One of the major reasons for the Swift’s massive success in the Indian market is, that’s it’s a very easy car to drive, even the fairer sex appreciate the light controls and easy to drive nature. The steering is super light at low speeds which is a big boon for manoeuvrability in the city but what’s shocking (in a good way), is how the Swift’s steering weighs up brilliantly at high speeds, it offers good feedback and is quite responsive too, helping you push the car through corners without a second thought.
However, what does make you think twice before being aggressive with the car in tight turns, are the MRF ZVTV tyres. We will be quite blunt to say it, these tyres are utter rubbish and are solely responsible for spoiling the dynamics of what is a very involving car to drive. In fact, the crappy tyres not only ruin the dynamics but also the braking, the car tends to lock up with ABS as well. The brakes could have been better (they squeak a lot and we had to get the front discs and rear drums cleaned) and the tyres definitely should have been of a better compound, they can’t handle the Swift’s not so much torque of 190 Nm. Be a little aggressive with the throttle and the 75 BHP motor makes the wheels spin in glory.
Ride quality on the Swift is good, the car takes most bumps in its stride but tends to bounce a bit on bad roads, which reveals the light weight of the vehicle. This Maruti Suzuki car remains stable at speed and road noise inside the cabin is well contained. The large multi-information display between the speedometer and tachometer is hugely useful and helps one in many ways, it has so much info like distance to empty, real time mileage and what not.
Maruti Suzuki cars are cheap to maintain, that’s a definite myth. The Swift is far from cheap to upkeep. While Maruti Suzuki service is itself excellent, the cost of parts is on the higher side. The cost of fifth service was Rs. 11,686.68/-, which was a routine service and nothing outside the company’s recommendations was changed.
The Maruti Suzuki Swift isn’t India’s favourite hatchback by chance, it’s pretty much earned the title by meeting most of the customers requirements. Sure, the new Swift is more sober than the old one, devoid of diesel clatter, rattling and a harsh ride quality but Maruti Suzuki has also killed the soul of the car to quite an extent. The Swift no longer handles like how it used to, nor does the diesel engine put your pants on fire with a turbo kick which is addictive. Instead, the new car has linear power delivery and a better ride quality. From appealing solely to enthusiasts, to now appealing to the mass market, the Swift has matured and we are not liking it. Still, as a no-nonsense car, the Swift still manages to offer a lot to buyers.
Previous Reports –
Maruti Suzuki Swift Long Term Review – First Report